Layers

I threw on a sweater this morning that I bought at my very heaviest, right around 9 months pregnant with my son.  It’s basically a blanket with sleeves and I thought it did a great job of hiding me completely so I could continue pretending that I was invisible as I waddled my pregnant (and then nursing) self through my life.  It was tough enough to painstakingly avoid my reflection whenever possible, I could not even cope with the thought of other people (strangers, family, friends, whatever) actually seeing me.  So I did my best to camouflage my body with layers and yards and yards of draping fabric strategically placed over the bumpy parts, effectively making them disappear, right?  Right.  In my mind, everyone was fooled, or at least I had made myself so utterly unremarkable that if someone did per chance catch a view of me, I would be so forgettable that the image would quickly and easily be replaced by something of value to them.  Writing that is almost painful.  It’s difficult to believe that just a short time ago I felt so worthless because I was fat; so completely and utterly worthless that at best I hoped for invisibility or at the very least camouflage.  The realization makes me feel sad for that woman, what a waste.

Anyway, for two years I believed I was doing a pretty good job keeping my fat self under wraps.  Like I actually believed that the baggy, unflattering clothes were hiding the reality of my weight gain (and my FAILURE to melt away between pregnancies while breastfeeding) to the outside world.  The bubble wasn’t a happy place to live, but it allowed me to go about my day to day life with a new baby and a toddler without dwelling too much on my weight.  That is until my husband posted this photo of me (wearing the blanket with sleeves) to Facebook  on Mother’s Day, May 12th, 2013:

When it came up in my newsfeed my heart was in my throat immediately.  TAKE IT DOWN NOW was of course my first thought, followed by WHAT A TERRIBLE ANGLE, IS MY DOUBLE CHIN ACTUALLY THAT BIG?, MY ARMS ARE DISGUSTING, and a multitude of other expletives and horrified realizations.  I’m embarrassed to admit that even today the cuteness of my brand new puppy is eclipsed by my bruised ego.  This picture tells the truth.  A few minutes after he posted it I asked my husband to remove the photo.  He looked confused so I told him I needed him to put up a more flattering picture from a better angle.  He said (gently and kindly, I’ll add) “I think you look fine Amber.  This is what you look like.”  That stung, a bit.  Because it was truthful, not because it was hurtful.  Because despite my very best efforts to hide I realized that afternoon that he knew exactly what I looked like and so did everyone else in my life.  As it turns out, I wasn’t doing that great of a job covering it up, in fact I was likely drawing attention to my personal discomfort because I was usually overheating on top of being over dressed and overweight.
As much as this lesson hurt it was a really important one in my journey and I’m thankful to my husband for giving me a much needed nudge toward honesty with myself.  It was that day I started really looking at what I had to work with.  I started looking in the mirror again, not with a resigned “it’s all going to be gross so why bother”, but with curiosity about what changes are possible and a purpose.  I knew had the tools to make the change I desperately wanted, but this photo was the kick in the ass I needed to KEEP PUSHING, even when it is tough or not fun anymore.  There is no option other than success on this journey, for my family and my friends and loved ones yes, but for ME most importantly.  Because I’m over the self loathing part of my life.  I’m moving on to a self acceptance and love place and it is amazing.  I can’t wait to see the difference in the Mother’s Day photos next year.

For now I’m just happy that I’m allowing my skin to see the sun again!  I’ve reintroduced tank tops!  And bathing suits!  And shorts!  And I’ve kind of let go of my need to look amazing in every single photo posted of me.  I almost think it’s ok to see (and share!) the not so flattering angles, since that is what life is made up of after all.  This is a photo of me and the kids yesterday playing on our lake.  Needless to say the blanket with sleeves has been retired officially as of today, it is HUGE on me and to be honest the garment makes me sad so I’m ditching it.  I’ll do a progress photo update tomorrow!  Be well friends.  🙂

 

4 Comments

  • Melissa Frost

    September 16, 2013

    OMGosh…It’s like *I* wrote this!!! Ugh…Even brought tears to my eyes in more than one place. And, unfortunately, I am STILL in this place! 🙁 You are doing such an amazing job…And I LOVE the last pic posted! 🙂

    • Amber

      September 16, 2013

      Thank you Melissa! 🙂

  • Anonymous

    August 5, 2013

    I know exactly where you are coming from Amber, I am sort of there myself (about 2 months into my journey, going slow because of health issues..but at least going in the right direction). I think you are extremely brave to show your pictures and I get more and more confidence every time you post! Bravo on your progress and I look forward to what is to come next!!! Judy!

    • Amber

      August 5, 2013

      Thank you so much for the comment Judy. 🙂

      To be honest, the sharing of the photos was the most terrifying part of deciding to do this whole Rural Rebel Mama project, but it’s actually been the most freeing…it keeps me accountable, of course, but it’s more than that. I actually feel ‘lighter’ by being honest with the world (and myself) about my body. Its crazy. And wonderful. 🙂